April 14Smith Street Band, “More Scared of You Than You Are of Me”These Australian quiet punkers make triumphant and subdued music rife with emotion and strife. The lyrics evoke thoughts of melancholic optimism, the working-class existentialism of the 21st century distilled into anthemic neighborhood stories. The most striking thing about Smith Street band is the relatability of the lyrics without sacrificing songwriting or limiting the scope of the lyrics themselves. It shows the profundity of common occurrences within a pop rock cocoon that I love so dearly.
November’s Doom, “Hamartia”As their name suggests, November’s Doom play a style of heavy metal music commonly called doom metal, taking inspiration from Black Sabbath and running with it until it becomes oppressive. These guys have been doing it for more than 30 years, and have been consistently great to an astonishing degree. Their 1999 album “Of Sculpted Ivy and Stone Flowers” is a genre-defining masterwork, and honestly it seems like “Hamartia” might follow in its footsteps. The song “Zephyr” is catchy as all hell, and managing to make a catchy death metal song must always be applauded. Catchy doesn’t mean pop, it just has to stick in your head, and I couldn’t get that riff out of my skull for days. November’s Doom are also a great breaking-in point for underground metal. So if you like the more mainstream side of extreme music but want to find a band whose T-shirts you won’t find at a Walmart, check out “Hamartia,” “Zephyr” especially. You’ll be surprised at enjoying something with some grit.
The String Cheese Incident, “Believe”I’m of the mind that funk jams recorded in studio don’t work so well most of the time. They lose that certain flavor, that certain feel. “Believe” is a lush production, which is a good way to make me want to listen. Keyboards and studio wizardry fill the empty spaces to the point where one can really lose oneself in the song. Though String Cheese Incident tends to have shorter songs, they still feel full of life. The title track is squishy in all the right ways and full of ear-worm melodies that weave in and out of each other almost to the point of being overwhelming. Though not my usual jam, I enjoyed “Believe.”
John Mayer, “The Search For Everything”Lead single about not being able to get over your famous ex-girlfriend notwithstanding, the dude has chops, and is much more than that aggravatingly catchy “Your Body is a Wonderland.” He has newfound appreciation about this area of the world from his time spent with Dead and Company, and the new record definitely feels like a response to that time touring. While some of the songs have really great guitar parts, a lot of it struck me more on the pop side.